MILF hails Aquino’s retention of Malaysia as talks facilitator; will announce panel composition after Eid’l Fitr

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews/01 September) – The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) hailed President Benigno Aquino’s decision to retain Malaysia as the facilitator of the peace talks between them and the Philippine government.

Mohagher Iqbal, MILF information chief and head of the deactivated peace panel,  told MindaNews Aquino’s move was a “welcome development” and a “good decision.”

“It’s an issue —  change of facilitator — that could have (delayed) the resumption. Aquino made a good decision,” said Iqbal.

Iqbal said the MILF will announce their panel’s composition “after Eid’l Fitr,” or the end of Ramadan.

Eid’l Fitr is on September 9 or 10.

Malacanang on Tuesday announced that Malaysia remains as the third party facilitator at the resumption of peace negotiations after Ramadan.

Presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda told Malacanang reporters that the peace talks with the MILF will definitely resume after Ramadan.

In his State of the Nation Address on July 26, President Aquino said:  “Our view has not changed when it comes to the situation in Mindanao. We will only achieve lasting peace if all stakeholders engage in an honest dialogue: may they be Moro, Lumad, or Christian. We have asked Dean Marvic Leonen to head our efforts to talk to the MILF.”

“We will learn from the mistakes of the past administration, that suddenly announced an agreement reached without consultations from all concerned. We are not blind to the fact that it was done with political motivation, and that the interest behind it was not that of the people. We recognize the efforts of the MILF to discipline those within its ranks. We are hopeful that the negotiations will begin after Ramadan,” Aquino said in Pilipino.

“What we have right now and what we have been informed is that Malaysia is still the third party negotiator,” the Presidential Communications Operations Office quoted Lacierda as saying. (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)

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